The Purpose Of Philosophy

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by impermanence, Feb 19, 2023.

  1. Talon

    Talon Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    Messages:
    46,917
    Likes Received:
    26,509
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Interesting.

    I think that we can reach or achieve an "actual understanding" despite our limited intellectual and perceptual capabilities. I think philosophy serves several roles, amongst them helping us to reach that understanding and expressing that understanding.

    I would be remiss if I did not point out that you mentioned Buddha - did Siddhartha Gautama not arrive at an "actual understanding"?
     
  2. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Upon his full enlightenment, he reportedly said he achieved nothing at all.

    There's a difference between understanding and realization. Basic understanding might be that you can add up a column of numbers and reach the correct sum. Realization is walking down the sidewalk and out of the corner of your eye grabbing a three year old's arm just before he runs out into the path of a speeding car.

    Things that are knowable are in constant flux. Even if you eliminate the lag-time between the event occurring and its perception, the simplest of events are brought to life by an infinite number of events preceding [and each of those events by an infinite number of events preceding them, etc.]. How can we possibly understand?

    The Buddha didn't understand anything at all. His gift was teaching that clarity was the best we can do, that keeping a clear mind is the end of suffering. All the teachings in Buddhism are a million ways of saying the same thing. The path is the process of people coming to the realization that this is all it is.

    Meditation [although simplistic in design] is not so easy in practice. Quieting the mind is a Herculean task.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2023
  3. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Subconscious filters? I am sure you have had the experience where you are completely engrossed in a project and all of a sudden a hour goes by and it felt like a minute. It's that sort of thing. Being completely present...clarity. Who the hell knows how the mind works? Doesn't matter anyway.

    It's like boiling water...it's slow and then it's sudden. How do you explain to a very young person what falling in love is like? Or how do you explain to someone what losing a child is like? Although we believe that it is only the most profound things in life that defy explanation, it is really all things. We simply grasp on to explanations [no matter how absurd] because we find it more comforting than facing the reality of our true situation.

    No doubt, we all need to use our intellectual abilities to function but it really helps to understand limitations. For example, it is very convenient to drive to the food store but you must understand that you have to park in the lot and not drive your vehicle into the store. All things are like this.

    Most people use their intellect in areas where it causes more harm than good. Take a look out any window for conformation! :) This is particularly the case when it comes to group think.
     
  4. Talon

    Talon Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    Messages:
    46,917
    Likes Received:
    26,509
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    LOL - Love that guy....:lol:

    Laughing Buddha Buzz.jpg

    Sorry, my friend, but I must disagree. The Buddha understood a lot of things. That kinda comes with the whole enlightenment thing. :smile:
     
  5. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Wisdom is a result of clarity [the whole enlightenment thing].
     
  6. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2009
    Messages:
    8,178
    Likes Received:
    1,078
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Sure I have had such experiences. So what? Some things I have done in those cases have turned out to be useless, so it's hardly an indication that my mind worked better. Similarly, in those cases, we lost track of time, which is a bias in our thinking (we thought about whateveritwas more than about time, even though time may have been important). Again, you keep writing about all these bits and pieces, but you're missing the only bit that is important, why should we believe it? Why should we believe that what you've experienced is clarity?

    I don't see how any of this suggests your purpose of philosophy isn't a mistake. I don't know how to explain love to a young person, but my inability to do so is not a substitute for a justification. If you can't give the explanation, then the ideas are unjustified, the fact that explaining is hard is not an excuse.

    There, I agree. The trick is to be aware of the limitations of your understanding. I even go to the point that the limitations should be an integral part of the understanding. This in turn means that once you have a reasonable assessment of the limitations, you can be said to have a true understanding of whateveritis.

    I don't see that refraining from using your intellect would improve anything, in fact, I'd say we're using our intellect because we saw that not using our intellect wasn't working. I don't mind people improving their use of their intellect though.
     
  7. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I never suggested you or anybody else should believe anything. I am simply putting another perspective out there that most people rarely if ever are exposed to. Many people find it quite interesting.

    What do you mean, a mistake? It's a path...and one that many have taken over the centuries. It works for some and not for others [just like everything else]. The amazing thing about Zen, in particular, is that it is incredibly resistant to corruption [although this did happen in Tang dynasty China [approx. 650 - 950 AD]. Zen is for the purist and depending on which strain you follow, it can be quite free from any encumbrances.

    When you enter the realm of the non-intellectual, you leave much [and ideally all] of the confusion behind. This is not easy for most people to understand so I won't bore you further, but what you are trying to "gain" is freedom from your reasoning [ego] distorting the truth. This is where wisdom is born [wisdom being seeing the truth of the matter].

    Intellectually, it gets pretty complicated, non-intellectually, it is Absolute Simplicity. When you "get it," no explanations are necessary [similar to when your significant other (whom you have fallen very deeply in love with) looks into your eyes and all is right with the world]. But it's better. :) And it lasts beyond the honeymoon period!

    Wouldn't that be nice! Unfortunately, we can never have a true understanding of what it is, so our task is to get as close as is possible. I believe we can agree on that, as well.

    The intellect is a crude tool. Just look at what human beings are up to half the time. This is not to discount all the great things that a handful of people have come up with over the centuries, but I am not sure people are any more content despite the massive improvements in every day life.

    I, for one, appreciate all the wonderful technology that allows us to live relatively pain-free and in the lap of luxury [because it wasn't very long ago at all when EVERYBODY led a very harsh existence].
     
  8. WillReadmore

    WillReadmore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2013
    Messages:
    60,928
    Likes Received:
    16,625
    Trophy Points:
    113
    You keep up with your word salad.

    I'll agree on that!
     
  9. WillReadmore

    WillReadmore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2013
    Messages:
    60,928
    Likes Received:
    16,625
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Your ideas about simplicity remain absolutely ridiculous.

    Human understanding has gone way beyond simplicity, because how our universe works is NOT simple.

    I think what you meant about intellect being a "crude tool" has more to do with whether humans are uniformly capable at developing or applying intellect and are exposed to the rigors of a solid education.
     
  10. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    When learning about new areas of interest, there are words and meanings that go along with it.
     
  11. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Is that what I mean? :)
     
  12. WillReadmore

    WillReadmore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2013
    Messages:
    60,928
    Likes Received:
    16,625
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Absolutely. But, when you add definitions or create new words, statements become meaningless if it isn't clear which of the various definitions you are using at any given time.
     
  13. WillReadmore

    WillReadmore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2013
    Messages:
    60,928
    Likes Received:
    16,625
    Trophy Points:
    113
    You can correct my impression.

    I find it is often necessary to state what I think you are saying so I can hear back about where you agree and don't agree.
     
  14. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Fair enough critique, but I am going up against people who are openly hostile. It's not easy chatting with somebody who is attempting to be right all the time. This is a discussion of ideas and nobody should take any of it personally.
     
    Dirty Rotten Imbecile likes this.
  15. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    If you don't worry so much about me being such a heretic, you might find what I am suggesting to be quite interesting.

    Understanding changes as perspective changes. You are going to have a considerably different understanding of an object you are examining from 100 miles, 2 feet, and at 10,000x's magnification. It is our perspective that gives rise to our intellectual truth. What it is outside of perspective gives rise to absolute Truth.

    Make more sense?
     
  16. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2009
    Messages:
    8,178
    Likes Received:
    1,078
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    You said "you have had the experience where you are completely engrossed in a project and all of a sudden a hour goes by and it felt like a minute. It's that sort of thing. Being completely present...clarity". What makes you think this is clarity, rather than just bias?

    Cool, feel free to let them know. In the meantime, maybe we can talk about the thing I keep asking you about, what makes you think that it is clarity? What makes you think your purpose of philosophy is right?

    Well, if it works only in some cases, then that is what we call unreliable, and it is generally a terrible tool to use for truth. Like flipping a coin will sometimes give you the right answer, but is still not a good decision process for most things.

    Sure, I get that that is what you're trying to do, but what makes you think it is working? It seems to me, you haven't removed any distortions, you've just removed your ability to recognise how distorted your truths are.

    What's better about it? You've yet to show how it would be truer in any sense. It may be more comforting and lasting, but neither of those are things I necessarily want in my approach to understanding the world.

    You seem not to be reading what I'm writing. My interpretation of true understanding is far from impossible to achieve. A reasonable assessment of the limitations is a relatively easy thing to do.

    Not really. Our task is sometimes (depending on prioritisation) to find reliable data. It is not enough to be close, you also have to have justified confidence that you are in fact close. Justified confidence does not mean 100% certainty, it just means you should understand why we think what we think and what limitations it has.

    Sure, it is easy to get intellect wrong, but that's not really a point against it. It is not intellect's fault if you fail to use it right, just like it's not a lighter's fault if you miss your cigarette and set your moustache on fire.
     
  17. expatpanama

    expatpanama Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    716
    Likes Received:
    231
    Trophy Points:
    43
    You're posting like you're familiar w/ the subject but you leave out so much.

    Could you please share w/ us what your background in philosophy is? The thing is that philosophy scholars read these big think books w/ tiny print & no pictures and they learn a LOT. I took a year of it at the college level and even though I just scratched the surface I learned a lot.

    Please help us understand what you've picked up.
     
  18. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Bias is intellectual. Clarity is non-intellectual. If bias is present, then clarity is not.

    Again, you know you are on the correct path when your life begins to significantly improve.

    I was drawn to Zen after a very serious immersion into philosophy that lasted about five years [after the death of my son]. Like many, I had hit the wall and exhausted myself intellectually [not finding the answers I was searching after]. Soon after, I met a guy on an internet car forum and we got to chatting and he ended up re-introducing me to Zen. He had been a student for the past 20+ years and he was a good friend to me up until his death some years ago.

    I was probably an ideal Zen student because I had already determined that I was not going to "figure it out." When I read the first couple of pages of the book my friend had suggested, it's like a light bulb when on and I was off to the races. I've never looked back in over 30+ years. It fundamentally changed my life in every way imaginable.

    Zen is not for everybody. It attracts highly intellectual, high achievers that are willing to do what it takes [and even among this group, few make it very far down the path]. Giving up your ego [intellectualism] is no easy task. The rewards are legendary, though. It's not what you gain in knowledge [necessarily], it's the perspective you embrace. It's being ok with life as it is. Wisdom is simply seeing things as close as you can to what they truly are. Having this information in this state allows one [the opportunity] to make the best decision possible.

    Like everything in life, it works if you are willing to put in the effort necessary. But like exercise, different methods work for different folks.

    As I am sure you well know, the rewards gained in life always come from hard work and persistence. Spiritual matters are no different.

    Everybody's a critic. :)

    That's why you need to do the hard work and arrive at your own truth, one that works for you.

    I wish you all the luck in the world. When you figure out what it is, please let the rest of us know! :)

    For who exactly has that worked?

    I have never suggested that you abandon your intellect, only that you come to a better understanding of its potential and limitations and use it appropriately to that end. We definitely need to think.
     
  19. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Check out the above post. This might answer many of your questions.
     
  20. expatpanama

    expatpanama Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    716
    Likes Received:
    231
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Please correct me if I'm getting the wrong impression but what I think I'm looking at is your never having had any education at all in philosophy as a discipline but rather as a nice looking label for some assorted beliefs you've picked up. More like your philosophy of living than branch or field of mainstream philosophy.

    Much thanks & Cheers!
     
  21. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    How would you know whether I had any formal education in philosophy and why would it matter? More importantly, how is it being an expat? I am thinking about doing the same.
     
  22. Xavier_Onassis

    Xavier_Onassis Newly Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    There is not just one leftist philosophy, there are many. There is a huge difference between Bernie Sanders and Stalin.
     
  23. expatpanama

    expatpanama Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    716
    Likes Received:
    231
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Your response to my question didn't show any education in philosophy.
    I give up. Why does it matter?
    After years of once in a while thinking about going back to the states the wife & I have pretty much settled in to just being happy w/ cheap housing and low cost medical care --both about a tenth of what's charged for an equivalent in the U.S.-- and if u learn to live on local foods (the coffee is 100% better here) that's cheaper too. Now w/ the internet u can still talk to friends & family in the U.S. & transportation for visits is getting faster & cheaper too.

    iow, it's great!
     
  24. impermanence

    impermanence Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2022
    Messages:
    2,381
    Likes Received:
    821
    Trophy Points:
    113
    [QUOTE="expatpanama, post: 1074078095, member: 73730]After years of once in a while thinking about going back to the states the wife & I have pretty much settled in to just being happy w/ cheap housing and low cost medical care --both about a tenth of what's charged for an equivalent in the U.S.-- and if u learn to live on local foods (the coffee is 100% better here) that's cheaper too. Now w/ the internet u can still talk to friends & family in the U.S. & transportation for visits is getting faster & cheaper too.

    iow, it's great![/QUOTE]That's what I understand. I am thinking about Central America, as well. Thanks for the info.
     
    expatpanama likes this.
  25. edna kawabata

    edna kawabata Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2018
    Messages:
    4,604
    Likes Received:
    1,533
    Trophy Points:
    113
    You are relating your personal philosophy. Everyone has one. It can be vague or an elaborate artiface. You seem to use yours to judge others. Anything left of center politically leads to violent or damaging disorder and anything outside your philosophy leads to nihilistic intellectual purgatory. That speaks of egocentrism. The view that I am right they are wrong, not my philosophy is good for me and the others are not good for me. You must have flunked your Zen finals.
     

Share This Page